Talking about feelings with your children

Do you talk about feelings in your family? 

Many people grew up in homes where feelings were not discussed and crying was frowned upon. In todays society feelings and emotions are far more welcome and accepted, but parents aren't sure how to handle them, or begin to discuss them with their children.

In our home I wanted very much for my three boys to feel comfortable expressing themselves and to learn how to handle their big feelings.

Here are some things we do to make talking about our emotions just a regular part of our everyday, rather than it being something awkward.

Read - picture books are a fantastic way to introduce any concept in a fun non-threatening way. Reading together is also a great time of connections. Follow this link to find some great books on my Pinterest board.

Feelings wall - We have a whole wall of our home devoted to feelings. It changes every so often so I've included some different pictures here. Basically we can refer to this wall when we are feeling upset and I also practice calming strategies with my boys when they are calm. 

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Regular check-ins - I make it a point to regularly check in with my boys. During dinner we share how our day went. I also make an effort to be aware of their feelings and ask how they are doing throughout the day and before bed. My oldest is great at this, he has come to know he can come to me any time and share what is on his mind. 

Part of our regular rhythm is a weekly family meeting. The boys can add items to the agenda any time and we are sure to discuss and problem solve every weekend. If there is a pressing need we of course deal with it right away.

Don't punish big feelings - Negative feelings are tragic expressions of unmet needs. When a child is upset it can take some detective work to figure out what is really going on underneath the emotions and behavior. What your child needs is guidance and help to navigate the overwhelm rather than being punished. Empathy and some techniques to calm down will let you be able to guide your child towards problem solving. Remember connection over correction!

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